Feb 182007
Authors: Mary Swanson

Hip-hop music has strayed from its original, expressive intent to become a destructive force of commercialism, a nonviolence group director said Saturday at the Lory Student Center.

“Many black youth have become accustomed to seeing these sloppy, oversexed images in the media, and they do not have a collective memory of Hip Hop originating as a black power movement,” said Lisa Calder/n, legal and social director for Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence.

“And unfortunately, no one knows how to stop it.”

Calder/n, also a faculty member for University of Colorado, described Hip Hop’s mid-1970s roots as an expressive genre to counter mainstream society’s failure to address black culture in America.

Her keynote speech kicked off the third annual Women’s Conference, which addressed the theme “Reflecting on HerStory to Illuminate our Future” – in other words, understanding the past to effect cultural change for the future.

Calder/n also spoke about various “sassy” black women who had a profound impact on the Civil Rights movement, but are usually ignored in traditional history classes.

“(Calder/n) wasn’t afraid to say what she thought unlike some speakers, and I learned a lot of information that I didn’t know about women in the Civil Rights Era,” said Graham Button, a junior liberal arts major.

Button, one of several men who joined the conference, became interested in it after having participated in the Men’s Project last year. He is also pursuing a Women’s Programs and Studies (OWPS) Certificate.

Sadie Conrad, ASCSU vice president and fellow OWPS student, also found the keynote speech to be inspiring.

“I have always been a fan of rap music, but it was not until recently that I began to see the misogynistic messages within it, and it made me reevaluate what kind of music I wanted to support,” she said.

After Calder/n’s speech, participants grouped off into 24 “break-out” sessions, where they attended hour-long seminars in a variety of themes ranging from yoga to parenting.

In one of these sessions, graduate Students Samantha Farra and Jimmy Ellis teamed up with a group of undergraduates to discuss “Gendered Communication: Too Much, Too Little, and the In Between.”

They discussed the gender gap in group discussions – women usually give a response that is three to 10 seconds in length, whereas men give responses that last 10 to 15 seconds.

“Our goal is to create an atmosphere where everyone can be heard,” Ellis said, “and to understand that being heard is a right and not a privilege.”

Staff writer Mary Swanson can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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